It's 1300 on 2 August 1986, and the Soviets have broken through the entire NATO front in numerous places, pouring armored columns through the giant gaps. This is true maneuver warfare, with Soviet formations seeking out gaps and NATO seeking to find and seal them. Battlefield reconnaissance takes on a role of huge import, with 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (11th ACR) at the fore, with attached deep reconnaissance elements of 10th Special Forces Group (10th SFG) providing support.
An SF element of 10th SFG, comprising two SF fireteams, was inserted yesterday evening into the town of Bad Stulz and began reporting, but has missed its last two communications windows (didn't report in via radio). There's been a lot of Soviet electronic warfare jamming going on, so Brigade is optimistic the SF teams are still alive, just unable to communicate. From Team Whiskey's India Company, the sole remaining intact platoon, Lieutenant Teigner's 3rd Mechanized Platoon, is dispatched to find and recover the SF teams, in order to bring back their intelligence information. Failing that, 3rd Mech Plt must make contact the Soviet 8th Guards Tank Army and provide that information to the Brigade Intelligence Section.
From the Soviet perspective, they are actively and aggressively engaged in counter-reconnaissance, trying to keep NATO's prying eyes from locating their armored formations, and the electronic warfare (EW) jamming is actually being conducted in support of this effort. Soviet EW sections conducted signals intercepts and radio direction finding (RDF), which is how they became aware of the two US SF teams nearby. As they were preparing to dispatch forces to deal with the US SF teams, their signals intercept made them aware the US forces in the area had just sent additional forces (3rd Mech Plt) into the area as well. The Soviets don't know the size or composition of this new force, but absolutely want to keep them from linking up with the two SF teams, and ideally, both US forces would be destroyed entirely. The plan is for the two infantry platoons (one on foot, one in BMPs) to push into Bad Stulz from the north. Once contact with US forces has been made, and/or the infantry have pushed sufficiently into the urban area to help clear it of infantry anti-tank weapons, the tank platoon will dash into the town, straight down main street, as the Hind comes in and deposits the two Spetznaz teams on the southern end of the town to try to bottle the US forces in the center, preventing any escape.
And here's the kicker: neither side knows where the two SF teams are! The Soviets aren't the only ones who have to push into Bad Stulz to find the SF teams, the US does too because of the EW jamming is preventing link-up via VHF/HF comms (I'm guessing Bradleys can go HF? For sure Brigade HQ can).
So, the way I'm handling this peculiar situation is this: there are two SF teams in the center of the table, so I placed four 'blinds' (which are purple beads) spread across the center of the map, with both sides having to advance and 'spot' the SF teams (admittedly, I'll be making the spotting easier for the US 3rd Mech Plt as I assume the SF teams want to be found by friendly troops). Despite them being on blinds, I will allow the blinds to move south each turn, albeit very slowly as they are trying to remain unseen. So each turn the blinds are out there, I will move the them four inches towards the southern baseline, and once they are correctly spotted, I will remove the dummies and place the SF teams.
Which brings up activation: I am still using Ivan's excellent "5Core Company Command," but I am using cards to determine when each unit activates. So, at the start of the game there is a card for the SF blinds, a card for the US 3rd Mech Plt, a card for the Soviet foot infantry platoon, and a card for the Soviet mech infantry platoon. Once the tanks come on (Turn 2), they will have a card in the deck. once the Hind comes on (also Turn 2), it will have a card in the deck. And once the Spetznaz are off-loaded from the Hind, they will have a card in the deck.
With that, we're all set, so let's get it on! Hold on to your hats, 'cause this is a wild-ass ride! First out the gate is a US card...
Please keep in mind that SF Tm 1 is spotted by the US, but not the Soviets, while the opposite is true of SF Tm 2. I'm making extensive use of spotting rolls in these games.
And thus ends Turn 1.
Then everyone hears 'whup-whup-whup' and looks skyward...
That's the end of Turn 2. I'm thinking ahead and agonizing over whether the US should activate the Brads to go get the SF teams or deal with the enemy, as necessary, or activate the SF teams to come to the Bradleys while they maintain overwatch. Ultimately I decide I can do whatever I need to with the Bradleys as the SF teams are close enough to evac by foot if need be.
Incredible! Their EW guys must not have turned off the jamming (i.e., great dice rolling!).
Uh-oh. For a second there, I thought it was going to be a piece of cake for the US. I couldn't have been more wrong.
**If you're wondering why the Bradleys and BMPs aren't exchanging missile fire, it's because they are inside the minimum range for the ATGMs.
The MG that react fired on B4 Rifle is on the apartment building at center left, and the burning B4 is barely visible at top left.
SF Tm 1 couldn't do anything because they had react fired earlier, so they have to sit tight. Both SF Teams are near the US baseline, and in good fighting shape, but we don't seem to be getting anywhere, getting too bogged down with fighting. Of course, the overwhelming Soviet numbers can do that to ya...
You know what really sucks? The US only had one Stinger missile. The Hind pretty much has free reign over the table now. Not that he knows that, but I am the US AND the Soviet commander ;) Having said that, please note that I didn't cheat for the US earlier; playing both sides, I knew the Soviets had a helo in support, so I could have very sneakily had Lt Teigner dismount his command team (with the Stinger) on Turn 1, but I didn't do it as I figured the US commander would have no way of knowing an enemy helo was inbound, especially in this comms restricted environment, until it showed up.
That's the end of Turn 3. I was supposed to get in, find the SF teams, and get out, but this thing has turned into an all-out brawl, with men and vehicles dropping like flies. It's only going to get worse...
And that's the end of Turn 4. We're getting pretty beat up; the Hind is still running around, the Mech and Foot Infantry are pushing forward, and the Spetznaz are in our rear area, unnoticed. But both SF Teams are still in play, and we still have a couple Bradleys and rifle squads hanging on.
If you're wondering why the Hind went with rockets rather than its ATGM, the ATGM stands a better chance of knocking out the Bradley, but it likely won't affect the rifle squad and SF team. Going with rockets allows a small chance of knocking out the Brad, a pretty good chance of pinning or suppressing it, and a real good chance of knocking out the two infantry teams.
**Alternate ending: Lt Teigner breaks and runs when the Spetznaz close, and is shot in the buttocks and captured ;)
Great move with react firing SF Tm 1; with Teigner's vehicle and command team gone, and B2 hunkering, they are in real jeopardy of getting whacked.
I try to self rally B3 and B4 rifle; the Bradley recovers and is ready to fight, but B4 Rifle has taken too many casualties and simply melts away...
Turn 5 is finished. I just need to get off the damn board!!! I'm so close, but they are on top of me.
The Spetznaz fire and knock out SF Tm 1... Now it is absolutely imperative that I get SF Tm 2 (on the US far right) off the table, or the mission fails. I may lose the game on victory points either way, but I don't mind losing if I at least accomplish the mission.
Now, the Soviets have three more cards in the deck; I've got one SF Team and one Bradley, but they don't activate together, they each activate on their own card. So five cards in the deck...
And the next card out of the deck is... a US card, and so B2 drops back and dashes across the finish line. There they pick up SF Tm 2 and return to Brigade headquarters.
Four M3 Bradleys knocked out
Four Rifle Squads knocked out
One Platoon Commander command team knocked out
One Special Forces Team knocked out
A point a stand, looks like ten points for the Soviets. They would have gotten 11 for keeping both SF teams from exiting, but sorry Charlie.
Three T-72s knocked out
Four BMPs knocked out
Four Rifle Squads knocked out
One Spetznaz Team knocked out
Looks like 12 points for the Yanks, plus five points for getting an SF Team off board, so I win the game 17-10. Awesome.
Wow, that was super intense, right up to the last minute. I can't believe I actually succeeded in getting the SF Team off board, but then, earlier in the game, it looked like it would be no sweat. All in all a great fight, took about 3 and a half hours. Once again superior American quality (in terms of C4ISR) and firepower helped to stave off massive Soviet quantitative advantage. The rules and the scenario worked like a champ.
Lt Teigner and his 3rd Mechanized Platoon, India Company, were pretty much wiped out (all but one M3 Bradley and its crew). The good Lieutenant received the Bronze Star with 'V' for leading a successful mission against overwhelming odds, putting up an aggressive, dogged fight which secured the SF Team and dealt the enemy severe casualties.
In the overall scheme of things, the Americans have now fixed the position of the enemy and are preparing a counterattack. I'm looking to get two more games in this weekend, so stay tuned.